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By Teen Organizer Tahnaree Evans
Spending a Saturday afternoon at the Church of Saint Augustine and Saint Martin seemed perfect, due to the fact that Thanksgiving was coming up around the corner. The teen organizers were there to do community service in the Lenox neighborhood, where we have focused organizing efforts in Ramsay Park throughout the summer and fall. We helped Crosstown Church volunteers cook and serve a community Thanksgiving meal. Meeting people who I had never met before was fantastic. Also, just having the joy of being able to dance with my friends and to feel like part of a community was an amazing way to spend my Saturday afternoon. Not to mention, the food (especially the green beans), was delicious to eat and I enjoyed every moment of it.
In an interview prior to the event, Pedro talked about how proud he was to be a part of Boston’s Latino community; “I am Lynn, I am Jamaica Plain, I am Lawrence, I am Providence, I am Roxbury. The best moments of my career happened in Boston and I will always carry them in my heart,” he said.
Following the AmeriCorps Swearing In Ceremony, 40 Mass Promise Fellows visited the Blackstone School for an afternoon of service. This was the first service event B-PEACE has sponsored this school year! School partnerships and service are the primary way B-PEACE works toward its goal of academic excellence in public schools.
The event began with an address to the volunteers at the school’s library from Lisa Lineweaver, representing the school’s Executive Leadership Team. Lisa spoke about the school’s turnaround story and the students the Blackstone serves. The school is one of the only BPS schools to serve students with multiple disabilities, and therefore draws students from all around Boston. Lisa also spoke about the school’s motto, Ubuntu, meaning, “we are because of each other”, and the school’s core values: respect, unity, and excellence. The presence of the volunteers that afternoon, said Lisa, was a way of showing, and not just telling, the students that the school community strives to live its motto.
Following Lisa’s introduction to the school, Tim Crellin, the founder and Executive Director of St. Stephen’s Youth Programs, spoke about the South End community that surrounds the Blackstone and the flourishing relationship between the Blackstone and St. Stephen’s. In addition to facilitating service days like this one, St. Stephen’s runs the Blackstone Library, coordinates Support-A-Classroom, and oversees classroom aids from Wellesley College.
After the orientation in the library, volunteers joined students in their classrooms for an afternoon of reading! A teacher hosting volunteers said he was delighted by his students’ enthusiasm to read with the volunteers. Several teachers expressed interest in hosting similar events to empower students and foster a love for reading.
After school was dismissed, the Mass Promise volunteers and St. Stephen’s after-school students and staff spent the sunny afternoon at the Blackstone Park and Ramsay Park weeding the garden, planting daffodil bulbs, and playing kickball.
Clergy and law enforcement are teaming up to organize a series of walks in neighborhoods throughout the city in response to the uptick in violence this summer, with the goal of strengthening community-police relationships so everyone can work together to reduce neighborhood violence.
On Saturday, October 24th, the Friends of Ramsay Park spent the morning giving the park a thorough fall cleaning. Neighbors from the South End and Lower Roxbury were joined by Northeastern students (as part of the Northeastern Center for Community Service’s NU Service Day), Washington Gateway Main Streets, teens from Vibrant Boston, and members of the South End Community Church and Emmanuel Gospel Center (as part of the Unite Boston BostonServes day). They raked up dozens of bags of leaves, picked up trash, and planted hundreds of daffodil bulbs around the tennis courts and the airplane statue that commemorates Captain David Ramsay. The day concluded with a performance by the Praise and Worship team from People’s Baptist Church, lead by the rockstar Reverend David Wright of the Black Ministerial Alliance.
Posted by Sarah O’Connor, Lower Roxbury Community Organizer, JOIN Fellow
Teen Organizers Veronica and Dominick spent Monday evening soliciting feedback and input from community members about the design of the mural they plan to paint this summer. The project is part of a larger effort to enhance the social, cultural, and athletic use of this neighborhood asset. Pictured left at the Ramsay Park playground, a young person is adding his idea — “There should be PIZZA!” to the mural.